the plus one policy


You’ve finally committed to battling the task of writing your wedding guest list with your fiancee. Your family is huge, and so is his. So while you know there is no way this is going to be any kind of small, intimate wedding, you are consciously working to keep numbers (and costs) under control. You get to your cousin James who, over the last 6 months, you’ve started to see popping up on Facebook in photos with one particular lady. Drives to the beach, breakfast dates etc etc it’s obvious there’s something in the works here. Having said that, you’ve never met her before or heard any murmurs of the ‘girlfriend’ label. So, what is the protocol here? To plus one or not to plus one?



The plus one drama has led to many a conundrum, awkward conversation, and at the worst of times, fall outs. But it needn’t be such a sticky subject, and here’s a few principles which might help guide you through it.

The meeting policy

Some couples stick to the meeting policy: if we’ve never met your partner, no plus one is given. This is often used when couples are trying for smaller ceremonies or have budgets to meet. At the same time it’s a rule that may be bent for guests coming from overseas who have been with their partner for quite some time.

The family only policy

Again, a good principle to go with if you’re needing to be strict on numbers, and also good umbrella-reasoning to use if you have several guests on your list that this is becoming an issue for.

The pre-wedding party policy

Safe to say, if they brought their plus one to the engagement parties and other associated wedding events, it’s proper to invite them both to the main event.

The work colleagues policy

If you’re inviting a handful of work colleagues that get along very well, it might be worth explaining to them that you are inviting them as a group, without partners. Should any of the group RSVP no to the invite, you can reassess whether or not they might need plus ones to feel more comfortable surrounded by all of your family they have never met.

The honesty policy

My girlfriends and I went to the wedding of a girl we’d gone through high school with a few months ago. And, because we’re so close, she felt comfortable explaining to us over lunch that they were trying to keep the ceremony short, and would we mind terribly if she only invited us, minus partners? Safe to say we thought that was very sweet of her to be up-front and honest about the situation. And how could we be upset with that? We couldn’t see anything wrong with spending a beautiful night celebrating with our friends while our partners did their own thing (and picked us up at the end of the night of course, win!).

A plus-one policy (or several, should you need them) might be just the thing that takes the awkward element out of your wedding invites. I’d probably negate to invite your cousin James’ potential girlfriend, but that’s just me! Remember, as long as you have your nearest and dearest (family or otherwise) you’re sure to have an absolutely fabulous wedding day.